Through Whose “Eyes” Do We See the World?
My daily Bible reading took me to Numbers chapter 13. The great thing about reading the Bible is that you can read it again and again, and in my case, even preach on certain chapters and yet see something new almost each time you read it. In Numbers chapter 13, twelve spies are sent to spy out the promised land and when they return, ten of them report that there is no way they can take the land. They say that the people are great in size and number. If you are not familiar with this event, God had already promised His people that He would drive out the inhabitants of the land. The idea of sending these twelve spies into the land was never to DETERMINE if the land could be captured; that had already been determined by God. To finish the story, ten of the spies say, “No way” and two of the spies say, “Yes way” but the multitude sides with the negative, majority opinion and so they don’t enter the promised land and they have to wander for 40 years. Now, to the part I saw this morning.
In verse 33 of chapter 13 one of the ten spies who gives a bad report says, “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” These ten spies saw themselves like grasshoppers; small, insignificant and definitely defeated creatures. The truth is they were grasshoppers without God but God never told them that they needed to be anything significant because He was the one who was going to do the work. Often we see ourselves as insignificant when God gives us a task to do and we lose sight of the fact that He is doing the task through us. I suppose a grasshopper could slay a lion if God wanted it to! (imagine how many views that would get on youtube!)
Even more significant to me is the last phrase of verse 33: “and so we were in their sight”. The spy is saying that the Israelites were like grasshoppers in the sight of the inhabitants of the land…but how did he know that? How did he come to that conclusion? I don’t think the spies interviewed the inhabitants of the land: “So, what do you think of the twelve of us?” That never happened. The ten spies seemed to “think” that they were insignificant in the eyes of the inhabitants of the land, significantly affecting their willingness to trust God to give them the land. But were those spies correct? NO. In fact, quite the opposite was true. If we skip ahead 40 years, Joshua sends two spies into the city of Jericho which was the first city to be conquered in the promised land. They meet a woman named Rahab who says in this in Joshua 2:9-11: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Now, the Lord did the Red Sea thing before the original 12 spies went into the land. The battle with Sihon and Og was a little later but God had also given Israel military victories before the 12 spies went into the land. Based on Rahab’s testimony, it is likely to me that the inhabitants of the land were AFRAID of the Israelites. The Israelites would not have been like grasshoppers in their sight but like lean, mean, lions ready to overthrow them. But the ten spies didn’t see it that way; and they went so far as to PRETEND that they knew what the other people “saw’.
There is a great lesson for us in this. When God gives us a task to do, whether it seems great or small, will we, by faith, “see” the task through His eyes or through the eyes of His word? If not, we will be tempted to “see” our situation through our own eyes and perhaps even attempt to see ourselves through the eyes of others. Let’s not do that. Rather, let’s put on God’s “corrective lenses” and see our world and our situation the way God sees it. Let’s see ourselves as God sees us. Then we will be ready and willing to let God fight the battles through us, and we’ll see great victory.